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Archive for June, 2014

I spent a wonderful day yesterday doing all the artistic things I like to do: research, observe, dream, imagine, observe some more, wonder why can’t….or why not …. Sketch. Explore and then organize a palette of vintage colors that captures the whimsy, freedom, and innocence of the particular era for my latest child’s sweater. Become totally happy when I find yarns I like at reasonable prices that match the palette I’ve put together. All the information gathered on styles, lines, cuts, etc…for a garment go into a file out there in the cloud world of computing, and onto a flash drive. This helps me keep table and desk tops free For drawing. And I love to draw.

The sketching is a Big Deal now. I sketch particular items like cuffs in detail if the knitted fabric pattern calls for it. I color my sketches and draw children wearing the knitted garment. These sketches have become little art works in themselves and I am toying with the idea of using these small pictures as part of the promo process of attracting knitters’ attentions to my patterns. Right now, I am teaching myself how to represent knitted fabric in drawings. I am also learning how to give the sweater existence in a certain time and space while keeping the focus on the knitted object.

My favorite part of designing is finding inspiration, research, observation, dreaming, imagining and asking why not. Nothing is on paper at this point, thus all possibilities are open. It’s a free feeling like driving a jeep with no top or doors on a gorgeous summer day.

Eventually a feature from something I collected on my design board will call to me. The start of the beginning of choices, selecting a path. Imagining and dreaming are still part of the process, but they hover closer to the ground as opposed to big fluffy clouds sailing over head on winds in the upper atmosphere.

I design with feelings in mind. I want my pieces of knitwear to speak to both knitter and wearer. I want to elicit an emotional response first. I’m looking to combine knitwear and art. Why not? Imagine having yarns in the colors of Monet’s waterlily paintings? Imaging reproducing that piece of art as a knitted sweater.

Yes, the favorite part of design is why not?

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Sometimes knitting and crochet patterns lack a schematic drawing. My feelings about this are rather strong. If a pattern lacks a schematic I don’t buy it. If I’ve purchased it as a pdf I may write the designer and ask for a refund. For me, the schematic contains almost 70% of the pattern information I need to produce an acceptable garment. This is my opinion only, a schematic is necessary.

The few exceptions I can think of where a schematic is not necessary are hats, mittens, gloves, and socks. Yes, I think even a scarf needs a schematic.

When a schematic isn’t included in a pattern, it is up to the knitter or crocheter to create one for herself / himself. Yes, this is a pain in the neck to do and some knitters or crocheters may not even know how to begin a schematic, but having a schematic is the difference between seeing where you are going and flying blind.

The first bit of knowledge needed is tension / gauge. I use the tension numbers from the pattern or if I am not getting gauge I use my own numbers. The number of stitches and the number of rows that make up a 10 x 10 cm (4 x 4)” swatch gives me my gauge number. To get the number of stitches per 2.5 cm (1)” I divide either the number 10 (if I am working in cm) or 4 (if I am working in inches) into the total number of stitches I got from my swatch. I do the same with the rows. Once I know the number of stitches and rows I am getting per 2.5 cm (1)” I can create a schematic.

The second bit of knowledge needed is to remember that stitches and stitch counts always relate to widths. How wide the garment, sleeve, shawl, scarf is.

The third bit of knowledge needed is to remember that rows and row counts always relate to lengths. How long the garment, sleeve, shawl, scarf is.

To find the width of the piece I divide the number of stitches given in the pattern by the number of stitches I am getting per 2.5 cm (1)”. For instance, if the pattern tells me to cast on 35 sts and I am getting a tension / gauge of 5 sts I divide 35 by 5 = 7. The answer means that those 35 sts measures 7″. To get the cm there is one more step. Multiply 2.5 cm by 7 = 17.5 cm. Those same 35 stitches measures 17.5 cm.

The way I calculate all widths stays the same: divide the number of stitches in the pattern by the number of stitches in my tension / gauge.

To find the length I do the same math and just substitute rows for stitches. If my row gauge is 7 rows per 2.5 cm (1)” and the pattern asks me to knit 21 rows, divide 7 into 21 = 3. The number 3 is the inches 21 rows gives me. To find the length in cm multiply 2.5 cm by 3 = 7.5 cm of length.

If the pattern tells me to work until piece measures 7.5 cm (3)” and I want to know how many rows I should knit the math looks like this: 7 (row gauge) times 3 (inches in length) = 21 rows. If I want to find the same information in cm the math looks like this: 7.5 (length to knit to) divided by 2.5 = 3 times 7 (row gauge) = 21 rows.

Yes, it is possible to create a schematic for a pattern that doesn’t include one. Again, for me having a schematic is the difference between flying blind and seeing where I am going.

Have a great weekend!

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The two-for-one baby boy sweater is pretty much done. I need to sew in one sleeve, obtain the buttons, sew them on, block the sweater and fini! It was a little kick-me-in-my-arse project and I am glad to have gotten through it. I learned quite a bit.

I think I knit and ripped the hood about 8 times, four of which included trying different ways of constructing it and four of which were because of mistakes made while trying alternate methods.

The pattern gives instruction for making the sweater into a hooded one or one with a regular collar. I should have pictures of the hooded version in my next post. Now I am trying to decide whether I should knit up a second sample for the collar version or rip out the hood and button bands on the current one and re-knit button bands and attach the collar. I don’t think I have enough yarn for a second sample and would need to order it from the UK. On the other hand, I hate to rip out all the work on the hood now that I am happy with the way it looks. I really don’t know what to do. Suggestions are most welcome.

Also on today’s list of nasty little chores is researching how to repair a hole made in an expensive bed sheet that someone with four paws and a tail created last night. Yarn Rascal was into his roam-the-night-away mode and finally at 2 am I put a stop to it. Unable to settle down, he spent time gnawing the hole in the sheet. He’s not vindictive he just has a very hard time settling down to sleep. Even when he does fall asleep he’s a restless sleeper.

Off to research the art of visible mending. Once Yarn Rascal makes a hole in something it draws him back to it like a magnet does with a piece of metal.

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Summer Solstice. The longest day of the year, magical.

Greet day with Sun Salutation Yoga Routine. Pull back muscle. Realize neck is no longer hurting.

Say hello to the roses that have miraculously bloomed after a horrendous winter. Talk to them. Enjoy their beauty and intoxicating scents. Decide a few blooms would look lovely in the kitchen. Search for clippers. Time passes, birds are singing, continue searching. Discover clippers in shadowy corner amid cobwebs. When selecting blooms get shirt caught in thorns of rose bush. Struggle to separate self from rose bush. While fighting, wonder if plant has a carnivorous side. Emerge from rose gathering with torn shirt, scratches that look like I’ve just gone a few rounds with a wild tiger, and no blooms.

Change shirt, clean scratches. Dance through the warm grass in bare feet. Delight in the feel of earth on my way up to the garden. Perform a small pirouette then a small jete of joy, land on a bee. Return to house moving as smoothly as a car with a flat tire. Have The Skipper remove the stinger. Take a Benedryl, ice the sting area. Appreciate the gentle breeze lightly scented with honeysuckle wafting through the window. As the curtain gracefully billows notice the windowsill really needs cleaning.

With a sneaker on one foot, a flip-flop on the swollen one, and Yarn Rascal on his leash, hobble outside at 8:30 at night. Marvel at the lingering light. See the first lightening bugs of the year float up from the grass and twinkle like so many fairies. Restrain Yarn Rascal who wants to chase them. Stand like a flamingo on one leg, Yarn Rascal taut at the end of his leash. Listen as the birds settle for the night in their nests and the frogs begin to croak. Hear the drone of a small jet plane near my ear, gently push it away; caught up in the beauty of nature. Scream when the small jet plane of a mosquito lands on my scratched arm. Hobble inside as fast as I can dragging Yarn Rascal all the way. Give thanks that the longest day of the year is over.

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The Skipper has taken note of his sock I am knitting. How do I know? Yesterday after some digging, I found the small crow bar in the garage and washed it up until it was presentable enough to be near my yarn. Into the yarn basket it went since I’m nearing the point of testing the sock on The Skipper’s foot. This morning I went into the yarn basket and where once there was a crow bar, now there was a shoe horn. Three of us inhabit this house: The Skipper, Yarn Rascal, and I. Since I didn’t put the shoe horn there, and I am sure Yarn Rascal never got near it as there were no chewing marks on it, only one person is left: The Skipper. With my high level of deduction I’d clean up at a game of Clue.

I don’t really think I’ll need either shoe horn or crow bar. The math comes out right for his size: 7 sts per inch (2.5) cm (I never got the pattern’s written gauge so I had to change up some numbers) times 9″ (23) cm foot circumference equals 63 sts. I cast on 60 sts to fit the pattern multiple of 4. The pattern is very stretchy so 3 measly little stitches shouldn’t be missed. I know it’s optimistic thinking on my part, but I really do feel sure of this, despite the way the sock looks too small. I mean the eye gets fooled by optical illusion all the time.

Most of the sock is in a dark navy color. Dark colors make things look smaller. The pattern stitch pulls the fabric in somewhat only to expand easily when needed. So the sock looking too small is an illusion. I’m sure of it.

7 x 9 = 63.

60 is only 3 stitches less.

I’m sure it’s going to be just fine.

Really.

Just fine.

Have a good weekend.

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For the last 6 days I’ve been in pretty bad pain on the left side of my neck. It’s cut my head mobility down to almost zero. Of course my left is the mastectomy side. I’ve repeatedly cautioned myself over the months since my operation not to become the type who thinks cancer each time something is not right with my body and run to the doctor. Hence, I waited 6 painful days before I made an appointment, all the while whisking myself up into a fine froth, sure that the cancer had settled in the bottom of my brain as I have done nothing to cause this pain.

Over the 6 days I tried Advil, warm water therapy, cold water therapy, gentle stretches, resting it with a neck brace, aspirin, and a special neck pillow that did nothing but deprive me of sleep. The doctor listened, prodded, looked and said, “Well you’ve tried everything.” Time for a CAT scan, I said. But he didn’t think so. Sudden unprovoked neck pain that’s lasted 6 days on my mastectomy side and we’re not doing a CAT scan? My eyes bulged out of my head like Elmer Fudd when Buggs Bunny gets the better of him. My anxiety eased over into the red zone and I now wanted an MRI instead–full body. He suggested we wait 6 days and if it’s not any better start with an X-Ray. My eyes were at least two feet outside of my head when I said, “Really?”

While I don’t want to drive myself crazy over this, I am driving myself crazy, and I am knitting what I now see as the “doomed” socks for The Skipper.

I’m at the heel flap. I’ve knit lots of socks before, but I never recall heel flap stitches being so excruciatingly tight. The stitches are so tight the fabric is curling. Last night while watching soccer and knitting, The Skipper suggested I do something relaxing. Relaxing? I am knitting. Knitting is relaxing, I said as I tugged and fought the curling heel flap fabric at the end of a wrong side row. I turned the work, tugged and struggled to get it out of its curl and began knitting across the stitches fighting the curl all the way. Seriously, how much more can one relax? Fiercely yank on the fabric, turn work, sl 1, p1 across row. I knit to be calm, quick vicious tug on fabric, knit across row.

I know, this too shall pass. In the meanwhile I am going to massage my neck and check off each day on the calendar until I get to six. I will start the gusset of the sock. But before I have The Skipper try them on, I need to locate the crow bar. His foot is going into these socks one way or the other.

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When the knitting gets tough, it makes the knitter in me more seasoned. I completely ripped The Skipper’s socks back to the beginning without shedding a tear or feeling the smallest amount of regret. My first thought on how to alter the color pooling was to change gauge. I went down to US 0 (2 mm / UK 14) double-pointed needles. Normally a change in needle size equals a change in gauge. Key word here is “normally”. But this is tough knitting, and tough knitting makes its own rules without nary a care for what is “normal”.

Same pooling on cuff of sock.

Same pooling on cuff of sock.

With 2 inches (5) cm of 1 x 1 ribbing complete, I saw the same pooling start to form. Impossible was the word that floated to mind. I continued onto the leg pattern rationalizing the k1, p1 rib caused the pooling and would straighten out on the leg rounds. Eight rounds in I realized two things: 1) the pooling was still happening; 2) the knit stitches that form the eye-catching vertical pattern were looking wonky. All forward progress stopped and the words I never like to hear ran through my head: “Houston, we have a problem.”

The first thing I did was measure my gauge. Surprise, surprise, my gauge was exactly the same gauge I had with the US 1 (2.25 mm / UK 13) double-pointed needles. That is not possible, I thought. So I measured again…and again, and again. I measured every area of the knitting to prove the impossibility of two different needle sizes producing the same gauge. The tape measure was consistent: same gauge. I took 5 minutes to close my eyes, breath deeply, clear my mind and open myself up to accepting the impossible.

Then I bolted out of the chair, hurdled over the dog and took the stairs two at a time to get to my knitting resources. Quickly scanning and pulling books from the shelves with one hand, I turned the computer on with the other, and began to search for an answer.

The answer slid into my grasp quite easily. Two blogs I read had posts on fixing loose knit stitches that occur before a purl. The fixing included shortening the amount of yarn used between the knit stitch and the following purl stitch. Altering the amount of yarn my stitches used was what I wanted to change the pooling. As I said, this leg pattern has a strong vertical line of knit stitches. Instead of being ramrod straight, my knit stitches were looking out of shape as if they had spent an inordinate amount of time eating at Dunkin Donuts. So I changed the way I purled the purl stitch immediately following the knit stitch.

Keeping in the leg pattern, I knit the knits as usual but changed the way I wrapped the yarn to make the purl stitch that followed the knit stitch. Instead of wrapping the yarn counter-clockwise I wrapped it clockwise. This shortens the amount of yarn used between the knit and purl. The knit stitch doesn’t have enough extra yarn to look wonky so it has no choice but to stand straight.

Wrapping the yarn clockwise seats the stitch differently on the needle, though. On following rounds I re-seat the stitch by knitting it through the back loop. While this doesn’t make for mindless knitting, it has corrected the pooling and the knit stitches are all straight and even. It has even drawn in the fabric a bit. I am hoping the drawing in isn’t enough to alter the fit.

Just for fun, here is a picture of Yarn Rascal at the exact moment he realizes I am going to share a skein of merino yarn with him. Sheer joy just radiates from that little guy. He is hard to resist.

My own Skein of Yarn??? Oh, Mommy!!!!!!

My own Skein of Yarn??? Oh, Mommy!!!!!!

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